Looking For Structure While Adding Responsibilities To The Children? See How Our School-Year Started!


Structure.

Consistency.

Responsibilities.

Independence.

All things we want our children to have, when they’re older, so they are able to lead fulfilling lives and, to be honest, so we don’t have to do everything for them.  But when is it the right time?

How about now!

A week before school started for my children – ages ranging from 9 to 4 – I started modeling the morning routine, while my wife and I continued to follow the exact same evening and bedtime routine she set in place when we had one child and he was still drooling and in diapers.  That consistency has clearly displayed our expectations of the children and it makes the time we have with them after school more organized and enjoyable.

(Nothing screams routine than the summer when for one week the kids had no programs, no camp, and were going crazy looking for things to do.  “I’m bored” was a common expression of frustration from the kids many times during each and every day.)

With all that being said, here is the schedule I presented to the children on Labour Day, and we worked through today, their first day of school.  I’m sure there will be some tweaking done, but I can say that this morning’s routine was the smoothest it has been in a long time – for them and for me!

Children’s Schedule for the 2014 / 2015 School Year.

Good Morning!

Before you come downstairs in the morning, please:
• Make Your Bed
• Get Dressed
• Clean Room / Tidy the floor

Kitchen Routine:
• Say good morning to your father and to each other
• Drink a glass / cup of water
• Have a piece of fruit
• Help with, or make your own, breakfast
• Eat it

When You Have Finished Breakfast:
• Rinse off your dishes
• Place them in the dishwasher, or
• Wash them, dry them and put them away
• Make sure your place is clean (no food on your chair or the floor)

Help with Lunches:
• Make sure your lunch box is out, and put in it;
• Nori
• Vegetables
• Apples sauce with a spoon
• Fill your water bottle

Go Upstairs To Your Bathroom:
• Wash your face
• Brush your hair
• Wait for Daddy to help you brush your teeth

*Hug and Kiss Mummy

Front door:
• Sunscreen on / Snowpants on
• Make sure your glasses are in your bag
• Place your lunch and water bottle in your bag

8am – LEAVING the house to walk to school.

Home from school:
• Wash your hands
• Bring your lunch box to the kitchen and empty it
• Put dishes in dishwasher
• Put lunchbox on the counter
• Empty your water bottle
• Put water bottle on the counter

Free Time:
• Play / read / relax / enjoy.
• NO electronics during the week
• NO TV during the week

Dinner Prep:
• Come to the kitchen to see what you can do to help with dinner
• Set the kitchen table – plates, cutlery, glasses, napkins, water, and the mats in the middle of the table

Homework Time:
• Practice piano
• Spirit of Math
• Regular homework

Dinner Time:
• When You Are Finished, Ask to be Excused
• Thank Mummy for making you another amazing dinner
• After dinner take your plate, cutlery and glass to the counter. Put your napkin in the recycling under the sink
• Rinse plate and cutlery and place in the dishwasher
• Place glass in the dishwasher

Before Bed:
• Put everything in your bag for tomorrow and place it at the front door.
• If you are having a snack, make sure you clean up properly afterwards
• Put your dirty clothes into your hamper
• Brush your teeth
• Floss
• Hugs and Kisses
• NO coming out of bed! Get a good night’s sleep for another amazing day tomorrow.

Good night and sleep tight!

We love you!

 

The kids love the schedule, although my boys prefer a much simpler routine based on the current WWE Champion Brock Lesner;

EatEatSleepConquerRepeat

Sleep

Conquer

Repeat.

 

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Things That Happened While My Kids Were Away at Camp Arowhon


My children are growing up!  My boys actually went away to sleepover camp for just under 2-weeks earlier this summer and that marked the first time my middle son was away from us for longer than one day.  My oldest son had been away for a weekend at camp but never anything this long.  I think we worried more than they did, to be honest.

We got them ready for camp at the end of last summer but talking about it a lot, and spending considerable amounts of time speak with different camps and upon deciding on Camp Arowhon we then spent 304 more months getting them ready and buying the stuff they needed for their stay.

We chose Camp Arowhon because of the owner, Joanna Kates’ views on bullying.  She has a zero-tolerance policy and she also carefully chooses councillors and who attends the camp.  It almost felt like we had to get the go ahead nod before we wrote that cheque and there were times when I was not sure we were going to be allowed to send our kids there.

In the end it was all worth while as the kids loved it there.  They rode horses, sailed, learned to canoe, paddle their own kayak and most importantly they grew up.

Another wonderful feature about Arowhon is the 100% ban on electronics.  If it’s found, it’s taken away for good.  Not just for the campers but also for the councillors too.  Kids are there for fun, sun and learning, not for video games, texting and other electronic things.  The camp also does not have a parents day, there are no pictures on the website and if kids and parents wish to communicate it’s through hand-written letters.  We actually received 7 letters from our kids and sent 3 of them  That was a lot of fun too.

And the food… The food was great according to my kids.  My middle son even went as far as to say that the soup was better as good as the soup Mummy makes.  Joanne, if you were not aware, is the food critic for The Globe and Mail newspaper – has been for 25-years – so if anyone knows anything about good food, it’s Joanne.

So with our boys away for 12 days, we were left with our daughter – her first time as an only child – we were experiencing new and different things, so here are 13 things that happened / we did / while our sons were having the time of their lives at camp.

So sit back, grab the bug spray, leave the iPod at home, slap on the sun-screen and get read for the list!

 

  1. For the first time in her little life, our daughter had us all to her self, and she did not leave us alone for a second.  It was amazing getting to spend so much time with her, not having to share that attention with her brothers and not having to compete with them for our time.  Plus she’s still at that age where by 7pm she’s exhausted and ready for bed! .

  2. We hopped in the car and made a run for the border – crossing at Niagara Falls (no line up whatsoever) and even after being questions over and over again as to why we were heading across on a Friday morning) we went, shopped, slept, shopped some more and slide back into Canada (only one car in front of us) without a hitch..

  3. We took apart the kids bedrooms and put them back together again… Cleaner, with much less junk, and in a manner which we expect them to keep it in for at least one day when they get back.

  4. The garden grew!  Raspberries (red ones, purple ones and golden ones), green beans, yellow beans, currents… They all made an appearance and we eaten.  Yum.

9. We slept in.  All of us.  By sleeping in, I mean past 6am.  7am is about the latest I’ve slept in the last 8-years.  But 7:30am was an absolute dream!

  1. My wife and I went out… together.. on a date.  I figures since we actually had to speak to each other for 12 days, it might be nice to take advantage of the relative calm and go out.  You know what happened, folks… By 9pm we were exhausted.  But we trooped, stayed out until 11pm, then went home to sleep.

  2. We got caught up on laundry.  We washed everything!  Comforters, duvets, everything because we knew once camp was over and the house was back to 5 people, we would never catch up.

  3. I got to bed early… Twice.  Early for me used to be 11pm, but I’ve been finding that since I started my own business I never stopped having enough to do around the house, so early quickly became 2am.  I actually got in to bed at 9pm one night and by 10:30 another night.  Amazing.

5. I was outnumbered… In more than one way.  Aside from being one male to two females, many long-time readers will recall that my wife kept her last name when we got hitched, and before we had kids we agreed that any boys we had would take my last name, and any girls would take her last name.   I was in the minority.

  1. My oldest son returned with the new-found ability to play the guitar.  As a matter of fact, the day after he arrived home, he asked me this; “Daddy, is that Sweet Home Alabama playing on the radio?”  Then he said; “I can play that on the guitar!”  Sweet!

3. My middle child learned to horseback ride and he loved it!!  Who knew?!?

2. My boys grew up.  They just seemed so different.  My oldest son did not want to come home – he wanted to stay for a couple more weeks (even wrote a letter to us which arrived the day after he came home saying “send more envelopes!  I’m staying for 2 more weeks, and tell my sister I love her and I miss her.”  My younger son, clearly no longer worried about spending time away from home seemed older, more relaxed, and cooler.  Camp did him well.

As someone who never went to camp – I started working full-time in the summers when I was 14-years-old so I could buy plastic goalie pads for our street hockey games, I kept it up and paid for University.  Camp would have been nice, but University was better.  Now that I see how the kids have changed after just 12 days away, I wonder what it will be like next summer after a month away, and if this is the beginning of the kids independence.

  1. We missed them!  Not at first and not always but in those moments when the chaos slows down and we get to breathe, live, relax and look around we realize what a huge part of our lives those children have become and we miss having them around to share with, listen to and teach.

Now they’re back and we get to talk about camp next year!  2 weeks or 1 month…

 

Thursday Thirteen: You’re turn! 

Did you go to camp as a kid?  What did you like the most and what did you hate?  If you did not, what did you do instead?

It Can Be Very Stressful To Be a 4-Year-Old Girl!


My boys will be experiencing sleep away camp this summer. When I was young I remember my mother asking me, and me providing an anxiety-ridden reply that had 2-letters, a “N” and a “O”.

In hindsight, I should have gone, or they should have forced me. Instead, by 14-years-old I was working in the summers and the rest shall we say is history.

So I want my kids to try sleep-over camp, meet new and interesting people (boring ones too, to be honest) and determine on their own if they want to go next year or not.

My 9-year-old has already asked if he can stay for the month if he wants.

I think what helps with the transition is the fact that we’ve been getting them ready for this for the better part of 5-months, from talking about it, to getting them new clothes and items for camp.

So how does all of this relate to the 4-year-old?

This was the morning conversation about camp;

Boo: “My brothers are going to camp?”

Me: “Yes!”

Boo: “They will be sleeping there?”

Me: “Yes!”

Boo: “I will be going to the same camp?”

Me: “No. They will be away at camp, then when they come back they will go to the same camp as you.”

Boo: “I will be coming home from camp every day… On the bus?”

Me: “Yes”.

Boo: “So my brothers will be at camp. They will sleep there, and then they will come back and we will all go to camp together? I will not sleep at camp, but I will come home and sleep at home?”

Me: “Yes! That is exactly what will happen.”

Boo: “GREAT! Whew. I need a break…”

Can I Please Get Some Sleep!


sleep
sleep (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I feel like I am preaching to the choir when I start a post on a blog aimed primarily at parents which has the title; “Can I Please Get Some Sleep!” As mommies and daddies you know that when you decide to have children one of the most important things you have to come to grips with is the fact that sleeping in, and 8-9 hours of solid sleep are a thing of the past. It’s just no longer a part of your life, much in the same way combing my hair became a thing of the past when it all started to fall out. You have to accept it, give it up and then move on, otherwise you will find yourself a constant ball of angst and stress.

Even though we have long since accepted the fact that sleeping a full-night’s is no longer an option for you, the past couple of weeks at The Urban Daddy household have been like no other…

Let me explain what is happening here.

First off, our kids have always had a very structured day, so their evening begins with dinner, followed by kitchen clean up, bath/shower time, a snack, book (us or them reading) and then lights out by their set bedtime.  Boo, at just over 3-years-old is the first off to bed. Her bed time is 7pm. Ever since our summer vacation she has decided that bed-time routine begins with her falling to sleep in our bed, laying on mummy, in “Mummies bed” as she likes to call it.  She also needs to have pee’d, brushed her teeth, and have at least her favourite stuffed animal of the day snuggled against her before she dozes off.

Once Boo is asleep, I carry her to her room and hope that she stays asleep during the walk.  It’s a temporary move, however.

Boo is now at that age where we need to teach her to tell time so she will not get out of her bed before 7am (like her brothers), so right now she  meanders over to our room at all hours of the night, blankies tucked under he arms and she climbs into our bed and snuggles up on top of my wife / her mummy.

Problem is, one awaken, my wife cannot get back to sleep.  I’m not so unlucky, and all I need is 10 seconds and I am back out cold.  So of course, Boo comes in, wakes up my wife, who 1 minute to see if I wake up too (which I do not), then kicks me to take our daughter back to her room, which I’m happy to do.

But parents, you know that once a child arrives in your room, they do not want to go back to sleep in their bed, so Boo then goes through her routine of stall tactics; “I have to pee”, “I want you to sleep with me”, I’m thirsty”, “I’m hungry”… Once all that is taken care of, I convince her that I am going to lay with her until she’s asleep, and once she’s back asleep I slide back to my bed, or sometimes I just fall back to sleep there beside her and hope that she hasn’t jumped back out of bed and into our room.

The problem continues because I’m trying to not fall asleep in her room – I want to break her of the habit of coming it and waking us up because she knows she either sleeps in our bed or she gets me to stay with her.  It’s tiring.

So it figures then that once we start to break the pattern we get a night like the one I’m about to describe, which happened last week.

Early last week, Boo arrived in our room – an hour and a half after her bedtime – and hoped into bed.  We were watching TV together so I got up to tidy up the house and let Boo and her mummy lay down to sleep.  Before I left, however, Boo asked me for water.  “I’m thirsty”, she said.

I gave her water and she guzzled some back, then she started to cough / choke, so we both turned to look at her.

“I almost threw up!” she said.

Third child, I’m thinking in my head, “No, you were just choking on the water.  You’re okay now, go to sleep, I reassured her.”

“No, I’m going to vomit!” she follows with, now opening her mouth to show me that she threw up in her mouth and did not appreciate the acidic taste.

“It’s okay, just got to sleep, please” I replied.

“No, I’m going to vomit” she repeated to me.  “I’m going to the toilet.”

Up she popped out of the bed, and then she tore off into our bathroom.

“Turn on the light!” she blurted as she zoomed into the bathroom.  I looked at my wife and we nodded in agreement that I should at least go turn on the lights for her.

So of course, upon turning on the lights, she proceeds to vomit into the toilet… Twice.

Oops, I thought.

“I vomited in the toilet”, she pointed out to her previously unconvinced father.

“Yes you did.  How do you feel now?” I asked her.

And this episode was just the beginning, which saw us change our bed twice, including the duvet and it’s cover off to the laundry room with her blankies, her bed sheet, her under-pad and about 10 towels.

Yawn.

Now, Six-year-old Stewie is a completely different story…  This kid looks like he is going to pass out exhausted by 7pm, and he gets right into bed and reads or draws, but he sleeps SO soundly.  He gets up at the creak of the floor or the sound of thunder and races into our room and snuggles in to bed with us.  He’s getting so big that he can’t sneak in any more, we have to make room for him.

We now tell him when it may rain at night and he always asks if he can come sleep with us if there is thunder.  We always say yes.

Then there is Linus.

He’s a great sleeper.  We had Stewie at home and Linus slept through the birth.

Nuff said.

So what would be the perfect gift for my wife???  A night at a hotel.  Imagine… Food, WiFi, TV and a soft, comfy bed without distraction… I’m shuddering just thinking about it…  For me.  :)

How do your kids sleep?

As a Father, if you’re going to disappoint some of them, you might as well disappoint all of them…


I wanted to post this last week when it happened but did not get a chance but since that night this scenario has come up over and over again, just not to the same extent.

The night it first happened, was a special night in the Urban Daddy household.  Determined to get back into some semblance of an exercise routine, I made up my mind early in the day that I would run on the treadmill that evening, by hook or by crook.

Since I’m still within my 3 month window of a new job with much greater responsibility, and the stress / excitement of meeting new people, learning new systems, figuring out acronyms and being on my toes all the time, I have found myself quite exhausted by about 10pm, which means that is around the time I tend to fall asleep on the couch when trying to; watch TV, read, blog, play Cityville, or… exercise.  Very unusual for me as I’m used to 1-2am sleeps with 6am wake-ups.

This night was exercise night and the beginning of a new schedule for me.

New Routine – Thursday night.:

Eat dinner with the kids (not unusual at all)

Stewie piano lessons

Give Berry a bath

Linus annoy mummy during math lesson

Then switch…

Linus piano.

Berry and Stewie before bed snack.

All kids in bed by 8:15 and I’m going to treadmill for 1/2 hour before I have a shower, then run out to grab milk.  I really want to begin getting to bed at a reasonable hour – it is currently 12:33am so that is not happening.

Then it all fell apart.

Urban Mummy wanted to talk to me.  We didn’t talk much the previous night and she barely saw me today and she wanted to chat but I patted my flabs and said, “Sorry hun!  I have to treadmill”.  She was disappointed.

I went to check on the kids and here is what happened;

Walked into Stewie’s room, and surprisingly he was still awake.

“Stay with me, Daddy”, he said.

“Sorry kiddo.  I have to treadmill right now so I can shower, get milk and talk to your mother before she falls asleep or kills me”.

He was disappointed.

I went from there to Linus’ room where he was sitting up in his bed too.

“Lay with me, Daddy and tell me a story, please”.

“Can’t buddy.  Have to go treadmill before mummy goes to sleep.

He gave me his pouty disappointed face.

Out I marched and right into Berry’s room where surprisingly she was up too.

“Rub my back and stay with me Daddy”, she said.

“Sorry, sweetie, I have to treadmill.  Sing for me and I will tuck you in when I’m done.”

She was not happy either because she didn’t sing for me and she usually does.  “Bla Bla Blacksheet”

Out I walked.

4 people wanted me to stay with them and 4 people got nothing.

Like I said in the title.  Go big or go home.  If you’re going to disappoint someone you might as well disappoint all of them.

Dads…  You turn.  What would you have done?